Food fair bucks tube strike

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The Speciality and Fine Food Fair has reported a leap in visitors across this year’s event, despite fears of attendance being affected by London’s tube strike. The three-day event, which ran at London Olympia from 5-7 September, attracted 7,428 visitors (pending ABC Audit), up three per cent year-on-year, making it the show’s second-largest year on record. Marketing manager, Rob Collins from FreshRM, attributed the rise to higher-than-average attendance on its first Sunday, coupled with a strong finish on the Tuesday in the face of London’s tube strike. “It is a great credit to the stoicism and determination of the fine food community, and the strength of the Fair itself, that even a crippling tube strike could not dampen the enthusiasm for visitors to meet our amazing producers,” FreshRM group event director, Toby Wand, said.The fair also reported a significant increase in new exhibitors this year, with 55 per cent participating for the first time. “It’s not unusual as several exhibitors may be subsidised for one year and not the next,” Collins told Exhibition News. “Food is a very competitive space at the moment…and it’s a product-driven show, so new companies help us out.”According to fair organisers, the success of this year’s Fair was fuelled by the increase in new exhibitors, expanding show features and programme additions. One example was a new ‘Meet the buyers’ section, where exhibitors could showcase their products to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). The successful pitches will result in exhibitors’ products getting onto the 14m plates of food that will be served during the 2012 Games. The Speciality and Fine Food Fair show has been running for 10 years and experienced steady growth in exhibitor and visitor numbers, Collins said. Last year, it attracted 7,200 attendees, down slightly from the massive 7,850 recorded in 2008 – its biggest year on record. Collins said the decision to increase its square metre floor space and co-locate with the Speciality Chocolate Fair in 2008 prompted the massive spike. This year’s show covered 3,400sqm.“We expected smaller retailers to be vulnerable because of the recession, but that hasn’t happened,” Collins said.The Speciality and Fine Food Fair has been booked back at London Olympia from 4-6 September 2011.
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